By Susan Hely,
, April 2010
Most Australians have credit cards with big banks. If you want to help the environment or give something back, it’s worth looking at cards from community-minded credit unions. Some cards give money to charities while others are geared to help save the environment.
“A lot of people are attracted to rewards on credit cards and they like to give money to charity,” says Peter Arnold, financial analyst with Canstar Cannex.
“There are cards that combine the two. After all, you’re going to spend the money anyway.”
Take Bank SA’s MasterCard GreenCard. It helps protect South Australia’s native fauna and flora by allowing you to pay a contribution to your choice of either the Nature Foundation SA Inc, Trees for Life or the Royal Zoological Society of SA Inc. So far it has paid more than $150,000 toward nature conservation.
The GE eco MasterCard uses 1% of spending to buy carbon offsets. This can be a bit tricky to measure, but GE explains with the example of a bill of $200 that will get you enough carbon offsets to equal the emissions of around 500 kilometres of driving the average car. Spend $1000 and you earn carbon offsets equal to the average emissions per passenger on a round-trip economy flight from Sydney to Perth.
There are new charity credit cards that give a percentage of what you spend to a tied charity. The Community First Credit Union’s McGrath Pink Visa donates half the card’s annual fee ($20) to the McGrath Foundation, each year you hold the card. The money raised goes towards the placement of nurses who support women with breast cancer and their families.
Do socially responsible cards cost any more? Arnold says they are in line with rewards cards. He advises always looking at the fees and interest rates charges.
Community First’s McGrath Pink Visa gets a big tick from ratings agency Canstar Cannex for its interest rate of 10.5% on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. It also offers 55 days interest free. “It’s a great-value credit card with the added benefit of the charity giving,” says Arnold.
Savings & Loans has a Visa “care” card that plans to donate over $1.25 million over five years to programs helping young people in local communities who care for a parent or a sibling with an illness or disability. It replaced the S & L Women’s and Children’s Hospital card that ended up raising $2.5 million for the refurbishment of the hospital’s emergency department.
Bendigo Bank has a RSPCA Rescue Visa card that donates a percentage of the revenue generated from all purchases to support the RSPCA’s Adopt-A-Pet Program.
Fund manager Hunter Hall has raised $5.5 million for charities over the past nine years by donating 5% of its pre-tax profits to social or environmental causes. It’s helped the Asian Rhino Project, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia, Free the Bears Fund Inc, Youth Off The Streets and many more charities.
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